My son brought home from school an envelope that was addressed to me. In honor of Mother’s Day he was asked to finish sentences specifically about me. His answers were filled with all the sweetness and love that I would expect from my oldest son, from talking about how I am really good at hugging to sharing that we love to cuddle. But, as I continued to read this beautiful testament to our relationship, one sentence in particular caught my eye.
“My mom really loves Daddy .”
You see, I do really love his daddy. Before my children were even a thought in my mind, I loved their daddy. I have always loved their daddy. He has more integrity than anyone I have ever met. And he is courageous. In fact, over the years, I have had the blessing of seeing him be courageous through his vulnerability in a way that most people will never see. He makes me laugh. And he loves me … every last ounce of craziness that I have shown him over the years. Before I knew the love that a mother has for her children, my love for him was the greatest love I could have ever imagined.
After having children, my love for my husband shifted a bit. About one week after bringing my first son home, completely sleep-deprived from round-the-clock breastfeeding, still healing from the physical trauma of childbirth, and hormones raging, I was absolutely terrified, crying on the inside, worried that I was not cut out for motherhood. I was convinced that I had a made a mistake. I have never known fear and self-doubt like I did in that moment — I was failing at life’s most important job, seven days in.
But as I sat in a tan-colored glider, exhausted at 3 a.m., ready to feed my newborn whom I was not yet bonded to for the umpteenth time that night, I looked over in the dimly lit room at my husband changing our son’s diaper so that he would wake up enough from being cold to feed longer so that hopefully he would sleep longer in between … so that I could get some rest. He wanted to be there for us even when there was little he could do and when he probably would have preferred to be resting himself. And watching him change that diaper and hold our baby close, it was clear that he was a natural parent, even if I was not. In that moment, I knew that I had not made a mistake. Even if it stayed that hard forever, we were in it together, and so we would get through it.
So, yes, my love has shifted. I now love him in the most unconditional, all-encompassing, I-am-completely-in-awe-of-this-man kind of way. There will never be another man, ever, that I will be able to say, “Jason has your smile” or “Dominic has your quick wit” to. We are forever connected by these tiny masterpieces that we have created and beautifully interwoven in the messiness of our struggle to raise them.
But loving my husband in that way does not mean that we do not have bad days, or weeks, or months. It does not mean that I see everything he does through rose-colored glasses. It doesn’t even mean that I always like him or what he does. In fact, after ten plus years together, there are days when that man drives me downright crazy. And we argue. Boy, do we argue.
I was raised in a household where adults only disagreed behind closed doors. And while I agree that we should not be having huge arguments, raising our voices too loudly, or saying hurtful things in front of our children (or at all really, but we are human from time to time), we do not hide our day-to-day disagreements from our children. And with that, we also don’t hide our apologies, our problem-solving, our open communication, or our “I still love you’s”. Because I want my kids to know that love is not perfect, relationships are not perfect, we are not perfect, and that is okay.
So, knowing that my son has seen us disagree more times than I can count and is still secure in the fact that “My mom really loves Daddy”, tells me that he has a truer understanding of love than most adults that I know.
I wish that I held the secret to a lasting marriage that I could bottle up and share with all the world, but the truth is, that I only know what has worked for us. And every couple is unique.
For us. we always have our eyes on Home base. When the day is long, we seek refuge at home. When the world is unkind, we seek refuge at home. And even on days when home is not an easy place to be, we remind ourselves that even if it stays this hard forever, we are in it together, and so we will get through it.
… and when we begin to stray from that, we both make every effort to pull it back in as quickly as possible. I have vowed to spend the rest of my life loving and living with his man, so to me, it only makes sense that we try to do that as happily as possible. When there is big stuff, we talk about it and try to tackle that head on. And when there is little stuff, we talk about that, too, because we have learned that if we don’t, the little stuff quickly becomes the big stuff. And then we try to move on — we fake it until we make it — and thankfully, our record for making it has been pretty good thus far.